Brazil: Fight against the recession and the proposed pension reform! Workers shouldn’t have to pay for the crisis they didn’t create!

Statement of the CCR (Brazilian section of RCIT), 15.2.2017,




In the last days of 2016 there were 12.1 million unemployed in Brazil, equivalent to 11.9% of the workforce without jobs during that quarter quarter. These figures were compiled on December 29 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) and are similar to those of the previous quarter, when the unemployment rate closed at 11.8%. Relative to the fourth quarter of 2015, this represented was an increase in unemployment of 2.9%.


The Brazilian recession deepened during the third quarter of 2016, manifesting itself in particular in a decrease in investments as well as in the national level of consumption. These facts make even less likely any recovery during 2017, amid rising unemployment.


From January to September 2016, Brazil’s GDP dropped by 4% compared to the same period during the previous year. According to the IBGE, this is the largest annual decrease in GDP since 1996. This figure is worse than that projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a report released in October, which forecasted an annual decrease of 3.3% in gross domestic product for 2016 and a 0.5% increase in 2017.


The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that, in 2018, the total number of unemployed in Brazil will initially be 1.2 million more than in 2016, with an increase from 12.4 million to 13.6 million, and will ultimately reach a level of 13.8 million.


In absolute terms, Brazil will have the third largest unemployed population among the world's largest economies, surpassed only by China and India – countries which have populations 5-6 times larger than Brazils! In China, the ILO predicts that the number of unemployed will rise from 37.3 million to 37.6 million in 2016, while in India, the rate of joblessness will rise from 17.7 million to 17.8 million.


The ILO projects the unemployment rate in Brazil this year at 12.4%, one percentage point above the 2016 level. For 2018, the projection is also 12.4%.


The institutional coup led to the position of president of Brazil Michel Temer (PMDB) who promised an end to corruption and the economic crisis. Neither of these has been achieved. Six government ministers have thus far had to leave their offices due to allegations of corruption, while another 16 are currently being investigated; meanwhile, unemployment continues to grow.


According to Dieese1 (Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies), the main factors behind the current economic malaise involve a combination of the political crisis with a fall in public and private investments while at the same time a recessive economic policy responsible for the increase of unemployment and the fall in demand and public revenue from taxation.


The Secretary of Administration and Finance of the CUT, Quintino Severo, explains the negative impacts that the grey, non-taxed (informal) economy causes in the country. "When informality increases, precariousness increases and we have to be careful that this does not end up reinforcing the (false) thesis of the necessity for labor reform and increased outsourcing. We need to fight the argument that unemployment is fought by withdrawing [workers’] rights.


Last February 9, in São Paulo, 23 national representatives of the CUT and representatives of 14 labor sectors met with the executive director of the trade union center to present their campaign against the Pension Reform.


Under the slogan "React now or die working," the CUT intends to initiate a movement that will take to the streets of the country to preserve the historical rights won by the working class. The national president of the Central, Vagner Freitas, warned that “The pension reform planned by the Temer governmen, is directly linked to the coup that toppled President Dilma Rousseff.”


According to Vagner, the current unelected government "Needs to make these reforms to pay the price of those who financed the coup and the pension reform is part of this project to place a freeze on primary spending for 20 years. The proposal is not just to reform pensions but to end them, with the banks then filling the role by selingl private pension plans. We are discussing with the other central unions that we should not try to make amendments to this reform but rather defeat it, "said Vagner Freitas.


The National Confederation of Education Workers (CNTE) reports that the union decided to call for a national day of strike of the sector on March 15. The strike, decided upon at a congress held between the January 12-15, must have as its main demand combating the pension reform proposed by the Temer government and the government’s full compliance with the National Minimum Wage Law by the Ministry of Education.


The CNTE considers the national strike "inevitable" due to the consequences of the current government’s having been installed by means of a coup which "confronts the democratic rule of law"; also “attacks income distribution policies, replacing them with outsourcing and privatization; and promotes the "freezing" of public spending, thereby undermining growth.”


We in the CCR unequivocally maintain that the proposed pension reform and labor reform cannot be defeated by negotiations with the ultraconservative national congress or negotiations with right-wing parties. Any negotiation between the reformist bureaucracies which constitute the leaderships of the social movements and central trade union will, in practice, result in some kind of defeat for the working class. For this reason, the CCR maintains the entire pension reform project must be totally defeated without any worker concessions. However, this can only be achieved by mobilizing the workers with their own specifically class-based method of struggle -- a general strike. And such a general strike must not be limited to only public sector workers, but should involve all workers in factories, in commercial businesses, as well as the peasants in the countryside.


* For a public works program to combat growing unemployment!


* Down with the pension reform!


*For a general strike against the putchist regime! For mass mobilizations against the far-right pro-austerity offensive! For the creation of committees of action in factories, unions, neighborhoods, favelas and outlying regions in defense of our rights and against the putchist government!


* For a working-class government in alliance with the urban poor and the landless! We can only guarantee our future and our rights if we bring down capitalism, the source of our misery!


* All support for the national education workers' strike on March 15!


* For a revolutionary workers' party -a new world-wide party for socialist revolution!






1* The Inter-union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIEESE) is a research, advisory and education institution of the Brazilian trade union movement.


The origin of the DIEESE dates back to December 22, 1955, when 20 union leaders from São Paulo decided to create an organ for technical advice to workers, as well as to carry out research and education activities related to the world of work.